7 different usages of SHOULD in English

Should is a modal auxiliary verb in English. Like an auxiliary verb, it supports or helps the main verb of a sentence. In this post, we will master different use of should in English.

How to use should in English?

It is one of the most commonly used modal auxiliary verbs in English and is used for the following purposes:

  • To make suggestions or give advice
  • To ask for a suggestion, an opinion, or advice
  • To give opinions
  • to talk about possible or expected actions/situations
  • To talk about duties/obligations
  • To use it in conditional sentences like IF
  • To regret over past actions

Use of Should in English

1. Use of should to give advice or to make a suggestion

We often use should to offer a suggestion or advice when we are asked for it.

Examples:

  • You are amazing at teaching kids. You should apply for a teaching job.
  • They are fighting a lot these days. They should stop seeing each other for some time.
  • I think he should see a doctor now. 
  • You should never think about making money; you should work on your skills.
  • Your sister should leave that guy. He does not love her and only wants her money.
  • We should have an online presence. That will give us more opportunities to expand our business.

Note: We use ‘probably’ after should to sound more polite while giving advice/suggestion.

  • You should probably call her and apologize for your rude behaviour.
  • He should probably leave her and find a better girl.
  • Rohan should probably get married now.

Note: We use ‘should not’ to tell/suggest people to avoid doing something as it probably isn’t good for them.

  • They shouldn’t be dependent on their families anymore. They should find a job.
  • You shouldn’t date that girl. She’s had a bad history of betraying boys.
  • You shouldn’t wear this dress for the meeting. It’s very appealing.
  • Max shouldn’t invest his money in their company. They are frauds.

2. Use of should to ask for a suggestion/advice

When you want to take someone’s suggestions or opinions, use should.

Examples:

  • Should I quit my job? I am not happy with the people I am working with. But the monetary benefits are good.
  • My ex-girlfriend just called. What should I do now? 
  • Do you think I should give her a chance?
  • Should I allow my brother to go on a date with her? I am not sure about it.
  • What should I buy for his birthday?
  • What should I wear to the party?

3. Use should to give opinions

We can use should to give opinions: what we think is right or someone should do.

Examples:

  • People should be more health-conscious.
  • If we want to live a peaceful life, I think we should meditate daily.
  • You have been working here for so long. The company should give you a hike.
  • The government should make marijuana legal in the country.
  • Daniel should get some respect after beating Jon the way he did.

4. Use of should to talk about possible and expected actions/situations (likely to happen)

  • The train should be at the station in 30 minutes.
  • The guests should be arriving anytime. Make all the arrangements.
  • The rooms don’t look very clean. The price should not be very high.
  • Let’s go to the coffee shop. He should be there with his friends.
  • The market should be crowded today. It’s a holiday.

5. Use of should to talk about obligations

Examples:

  • You should be here before 9 p.m.
  • We should finish the work before calling it a day.

Note: Should is not used to talk about strong obligations and duties. MUST or HAVE TO are used for that purpose.

  • You must be here before 9 p.m.
  • We must finish the work before calling it a day.

6. We can use SHOULD instead of IF in formal situations (condition).

We can use should in place of IF in conditional sentences. Using should in place of IF makes the sentence more formal. Here are some examples of should as a conditional:

  • Should you feel bored, you can watch movies on my laptop.
  • Should you need more information about these products, please visit our website or call our desk.
  • Should we not reach the office in time, we are in big trouble.
  • We will deliver the entire course in 20 days should you make the full payment in advance.

In these sentences, you can replace ‘should’ with ‘if.’ 

  • Should you feel bored, you can watch movies on my laptop.
  • Should you need more information about these products, please visit our website or call our desk.
  • If we do not reach the office in time, we are in big trouble.
  • We will deliver the entire course in 20 days if you make the full payment in advance.

7. Use of SHOULD in the past

Use should to talk about something (regret over something) that was done or not done in the past.

  • You should have listened to me that day.
    (You didn’t listen to me that day.)
  • He shouldn’t have drunk so much last night. He embarrassed all of us.
    (He drank so much last night.)
  • I should have accepted his offer. His company is doing great today.
    (I didn’t accept his offer in the past.)
Use of should in past tense, present and the future

Watch my Youtube video to master the use of should in English:

Thank you for giving it a read! I am sure this helped you master all the usages of should in English. Feel free to drop any questions that you have. Feel free to empower others by sharing the post with them.

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